Why Underwater Photographers Need Rearview Mirrors

Whitetip Reef Shark sneaking up on a diver

by B. N. Sullivan

This underwater photographer was so completely engrossed in setting up his shot of some tiny creature that he was oblivious to the two sharks approaching him from behind.  The curious sharks ultimately swam right above the diver, as if to have a look at what he was doing, then continued on their way down the reef.  The diver never did see the sharks.

Lesson: While you are in the deep, it might be a good idea to look up, down, and over your shoulder from time to time -- if only to see who (or what) is looking at you!

The sharks are Whitetip Reef Sharks (Triaenodon obesus), photographed at Pulau Sipadan, off the coast of Borneo.


Stony Corals in the Red Sea

Hard corals in the Red Sea
Red Sea hard corals
by B. N. Sullivan

This is one of my favorite reef photos.  It was taken in the Red Sea at an area of Ras Mohammed known as Shark Observatory Wall.  When I took the photo, it was a sunny day and the water was very clear.  I was not very deep beneath the surface, but I was positioned below the corals. I was shooting up toward the surface with a wide angle lens, using the sun as a back-light for the coral.  Pictured are several species of stony corals common to the Red Sea, of the genera Acropora and Stylophora, and some Millepora (which is actually a Hydrozoan).



Green Sea Turtle - At rest on a bed of soft corals


Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)
Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas), Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia
by B. N. Sullivan

As divers, we always exercise great caution around corals so as not to damage them.  Sea turtles, on the other hand, are not always so careful.  The turtle in this photo decided to plunk herself down for a nap right in the middle of a lush stand of soft corals.  We watched her land on the coral and then wiggle a bit as if to snuggle into her chosen spot.

The turtle resting on the bed of soft corals is a Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mudas).  She was photographed at Pulau Sipadan, Malaysia, at a dive site on the outer reef known as Staghorn Crest.

The 'Big Guns' on Bloody Bay Wall


Agelas conifera
Caribbean Brown Tube Sponge (Agelas conifera)

by B. N. Sullivan

Although they resemble cannons, these 'big guns' are sponges -- Caribbean Brown Tube Sponges (Agelas conifera) to be exact.  We found this particular cluster of sponges standing guard on Bloody Bay Wall on the north side of Little Cayman Island.  The two larger tubes were at least two feet long.

Here is another photo of Ageles conifera that we posted a few years ago.